Originally published on August 12, 2012

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2013 Subaru BRZ

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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If last week’s tester, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid, was everything that car enthusiasts hate about today’s modern cars, yet the average consumer loves, then this week’s tester (another Toyota development), the 2013 Subaru BRZ, is the exact opposite. A no-compromise (or at least very little) sports coupe that is hard edged and brings driving back to its roots.

I’ve been looking forward to getting my spin behind the wheel of the Toyobaru twins, as they are so lovingly referred to, for a long time now and this week I am going to make the most of it. I had a quick spin in a Scion FR-S a few months ago when a friend allowed me to take it for a run on an autocross course but I wasn’t so impressed as I had been driving my own car all day and the FR-S just felt slow—in the short time I’ve had with the BRZ I’ve come to realize my lack of proper judgement that day.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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Subaru’s version of this car, the BRZ, comes in two flavours; I have the base model that starts at $27,295, and there is a Sport Tech package that is also available and bumps the price to $29,295. The Sport Tech package adds keyless entry with push-button start, Anthracite black leather with red stitching, heated front seats, rear trunk spoiler, and fog lights—all the stuff you could live without but not a bad deal for another three thousand.

The BRZ comes standard with some features you do not get on the standard Scion version, like HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps and a standard Pioneer audio with navigation, but it is $1300 more to start as well. The BRZ is also the only non-AWD car in Subaru’s lineup, so you may not see much advertising from Subaru (although some has started) as it does kind of go against the AWD mentality of their showroom.

Nevertheless, as an enthusiast and a journalist I am excited to see if this car lives up to the hype or not, and this week I am going to put it through the paces.

MSRP as tested (including destination): $27,295

For more information on Subaru and the BRZ visit Subaru Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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Okay let’s be honest here, nobody cares about dash plastics and rear leg room in this car, so I’m going to skip the formalities—at least for now, I may return to them later. What everyone wants to know is how this car drives and what it transmits to the driver, right?

Does the Subaru BRZ live up to the hype? I’ve heard that it’s like a Miata with a hard top and a little more power—I disagree… it’s way better than a Miata! The Subaru BRZ (and by extension the Scion FR-S) is most likely the most down to earth, back to basics driver’s car sane money can buy these days—I think I’m in love.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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Road noise, yup there is some, maybe some would even say that there is lots—but that’s fine by me. The noise isn’t overwhelming, it is just reminding you that you are driving a car, not a boat, and that you have a connection between you and the road and it exists by virtue of just four rubber patches the size of your shoes.

This is a proper sports car and what you get is proper steering with some good weight to it that is very communicative. When you couple that with brakes that are firm, controllable and powerful you have a car that speaks to the driver as they manipulate the inputs.

The clutch and transmission are not the best out there and I’d say the Miata transmission speaks to the driver more but it is good, good enough to not really care that it’s not perfect while not hating it. It gets the shifts done, it does so with good feel, and it is there when you need it.

The chassis, the seats, and the driving feel in the BRZ are bar none the best I have driven in a new car in years—this vehicle speaks to the driver and is constantly coaxing them to find a road with more curves.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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Are you looking for a luxury car ride to coddle you on the way to work? Well, then, look elsewhere.

The BRZ is not harsh, by any means, but it is communicative and to some that may mean a little on the firm side. I find it is a great compromise, to be honest, but this is what you expect from a car of this intent. I was actually thinking on my travels home today that this car is very similar to a Honda S2000.

The Honda had 240 hp in a 1,270-kg (2,800-lb) car and this 200-hp 2.0L in the BRZ moves this 1,180-kg (2,600-lb) car very well, it just happens to have been released during another horsepower war when many expected much more power. The 200 horsepower coming from the BRZ performs perfectly and is plenty of power to get you into trouble on public roads. Some seem to dislike the engine sound but at full boil I think it sounds wonderful—couple that with the differential whine, the clunks when changing gears, and some road noise and your hearing senses will be tingling from every direction.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews

The seats in the BRZ are exceptional for a car in this price range; they hug the driver and are comfortable—I’d personally skip on the leather especially if you want to take it to the track as the fabric seats hold you firmly in place. All switchgear and controls are perfectly placed and driver oriented and the driving position is dead on.

I do have a couple of complaints about the interior, the biggest being the cheesy “aftermarket” radio with navigation—it is just a mess. The Scion upgrade is much better than the one in the Subaru. The buttons are far too small and when reaching for the volume you constantly hit the touchscreen, changing radio stations or bands. My other complaint is the silly strap on the seat that holds the seatbelt. It is secured with a snap that constantly comes off, every time you get in and out of the car—such a pain.

The fold flat rear seats look like they would be perfect for a set of tires as intended but you better have a good back to haul them out after you get them in. The rear seats themselves are completely useless for passengers. If you can squeeze back there, there simply is no leg room or foot room to speak of—first mod: remove them!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
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Well let me tell you this—drive this car, have some fun and still return an observed and very impressive 7.1 L/100 km on premium fuel. Wow! Now that may have impressed me more than the lap times!

The Subaru BRZ and, by extension, the Scion FRS are this decade’s new benchmark for affordable fun. It may not be the fastest car on the street, but it could still get you in trouble and if you keep the speeds down you’ll still have a blast.

*Rating out of 5:

2013 Subaru BRZ
Acceleration Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Handling Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Comfort Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Interior Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Audio System Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Gas Mileage Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews
Overall Day by Day Review: 2013 Subaru BRZ car test drives subaru daily car reviews

*Rating based on vehicle’s classification

MSRP as tested (including destination): $27,295

For more information on Subaru and the BRZ visit Subaru Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter




About James Bergeron

James Bergeron is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).